THE United States government has ably supported 500 Filipino out-of-school youth (OSY) in gaining financial and entrepreneurial skills.
Called the “Saving and Internal Lending Communities” or SILC, these saving and lending groups are composed of OSY trained by the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) “Opportunity 2.0” project and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) on technical-vocational skills, as well as entrepreneurship.
USAID partnered with Catholic Relief Services Phils. to implement the savings and lending approach of SILC to give the youth essential skills in finance and business. The youth work with their peers to pool their resources, save up for their needs, and have a support group as they venture into small enterprises.
USAID Phils. education director Thomas LeBlanc said these interventions “provide [OSY with a solid financial foundation so that they can fulfill] their dreams of pursuing further education, applying for jobs, or starting their own businesses.”
The youth, organized in five cities, has saved a total of P620,000 since January 2021. To date these groups have loaned out P320,000 to support education, training, livelihood, and other emergency needs of its youth members.
To celebrate the successful pilot, USAID hosted a learning event on May 9 and 10 in Cebu. It also looked at the program implementation in the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Cotabato, and Quezon City.
As host, Mayor Michael Rama of Cebu City—chair of the USAID-supported Youth Development Alliance in the city—acknowledged the agency as “a longtime partner in development,” and thanked the program for “equipping the youth with the skills for us to be able to take on the challenges of the future.”
Jerhom Trigosa—a youth member of a SILC group in Quezon City—shared how the group used their funds to invest in a small business with local urban farmers: “We learned how to rotate and grow our savings through entrepreneurship. We took a loan from our group savings to invest and create pumpkin cookie samples. We wanted to help farmers in the community and also increase their sales, as well as… promote healthier eating options.”
USAID is looking to sustain and scale-up this approach and content through a partnership with Tesda, which has used its local and community-based training institutions to support youth groups across the country.
Image credits: US Embassy